As the 2022-23 NHL season creeps closer, the Boston Bruins have pretty much their roster in place with a possibility of a few tweaks here and there. While the Bruins have moved on from some current players around the league, there are some that they would welcome back with open arms more than others. With that said, let’s take a look at a dream lineup the Black and Gold could have put on the ice with both current and former active players.
Bruins’ Forwards Currently in Boston
As constructed, the Bruins would currently have their top-six forwards already in place on their roster. Although it’s an aging group, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci would remain the top two men in the middle after both re-signed in early August on one-year contracts with incentives. Both have manned the middle of the ice for the Black and Gold for the last decade-plus and would have familiar faces to their left and right.
Brad Marchand, who will the beginning of the season recovering from offseason surgery, is still scoring at a high level in all three facets, 5-on-5, power play, and even shorthanded. Taylor Hall, a former Hart Trophy winner with the New Jersey Devils in 2017-18, has settled in on the second line. David Pastrnak is also still an elite goal-scorer on the right wing, while Jake DeBrusk has made the smooth transition from the left wing to right wing in the top-six to fill in a gap of depth on the right side.
Other current players wearing the Spoked-B would include Charlie Coyle, who last season settled into the third-line center spot, which will be perfect for him this season with Bergeron and Krejci returning. Newly acquired Pavel Zacha would be included, despite not playing a shift yet for first-year coach Jim Montgomery. Zacha, acquired from the Devils for Erik Haula in July, has an abundance of talent that he has yet to break out with and he certainly will have an opportunity to set a new career-high in goals, which he set with 17 in the 56-game shortened 2020-21 season.
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Craig Smith has been up and down in his first two seasons in Boston, while Trent Frederic is a young forward who took two steps forward early and in the middle of last season, but at the end of the season, he took one step back with his play. Tomas Nosek is a fourth-line center with one year remaining on his contract, along with another veteran, Nick Foligno, who struggled to say the least last season with two goals, 13 points, and a plus/minus of minus-13.
Former Bruins Forwards Currently in the NHL
Over the last couple of weeks, one former Bruin who has been linked to possibly returning to Boston in a trade is former Stanley Cup champion and fan favorite Milan Lucic. Since leaving the Bruins in the 2015-16 season, he has bounced around with the Los Angeles Kings, Edmonton Oilers, and currently the Calgary Flames. At 34 years old, the 6-foot-3, 231-pound left wing still plays with toughness, but supplies limited production at this point in his career.
There are other former Bruins forwards that are still in the league. Ryan Donato, who was traded to the Minnesota Wild in 2019 at the trade deadline when Boston acquired Coyle, is coming off of a career 2021-22 season with the expansion Seattle Kraken where he had career highs in goals (16) assists (15) and points (31). He played in only 46 games for the Bruins over two seasons before he was traded with 11 goals and seven assists. He never got much of a chance under former coach Bruce Cassidy. One year later, Sweeney traded Danton Heinen to the Anaheim Ducks in a deal for Nick Ritchie. Heinen had a career-high 18 goals this season for the Pittsburgh Penguins, while Ritchie was not given a qualifying offer last offseason and signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent. Curtis Lazar, acquired in the Hall trade in April of 2021, left in free agency this summer for the Vancouver Canucks after providing grit and energy with the bottom-six with eight goals and 16 points.
Other former Bruins forwards in the NHL include Ondrej Kase, who like Ritchie, signed as a free agent last summer with the Maple Leafs, Marcus Johannson was acquired in 2019 at the trade deadline and provided the Bruins with a spark on the third line with four goals and 11 points in Boston’s run to the Stanley Cup Final that spring. Noel Acciari played in 180 games for the Bruins over four seasons before leaving after 2019 in free agency to go to the Florida Panthers, where he scored a career-high 20 goals in his first season in South Florida. Anton Blidh left after last season and signed as a free agent with the Colorado Avalanche and Anders Bjork is with the Buffalo Sabres after being part of the Hall deal.
What the Forward Lines Would Look Like
As stated above, the Bruins’ top-six is already still currently on the roster, and mixing and matching would be easy to do. Fans are certainly hoping to see a Hall-Krejci-Pastrnak second line, which has the potential to be a very good line. Marchand will miss the beginning of the season, but when he comes back, it will make the top-six that much better.
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Brad Marchand||Patrice Bergeron||David Pastrnak|
|Taylor Hall||David Krejci||Jake DeBrusk|
|Milan Lucic||Charlie Coyle||Danton Heinen|
|Pavel Zacha||Ryan Donato||Curtis Lazar|
The bottom-six would have Lucic-Coyle-Heinen on the third line, with Lucic providing the physicality, while Coyle will be where he is best fit and Heinen getting a chance on the right wing. Coming off a career year in goals, he scored two more than the Bruins’ current third-line right wing, Smith, and Heinen is younger. The fourth line would be Zacha looking to prove himself in a new city, Donato getting a chance he did not before in Boston, and Lazar, who was the spark last season for the Bruins is a tough loss for the upcoming season. Nosek and Foligno currently make up two-thirds of the fourth line and really anyone else would be an upgrade.
Defensemen Currently in Boston
Entering 2022-23, the Bruins have some questions surrounding the makeup of their defense. Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk will miss the beginning of the season recovering from offseason surgeries along with Marchand. Brandon Carlo and Hampus Lindholm will most likely be the top pairing, with Derek Forbort and Mike Reilly, along with Jakub Zboril are all left-shots looking to solidify a spot. On the right, Connor Clifton and then take your pick with which left shot will slide over to the right side.
Zboril is more than capable of playing on his off-side, as is Reilly, but once McAvoy and Grzelcyk return, it will make it a deeper group. Youngster Jack Ahcan will look to make noise in training camp and crack the roster.
Former Bruins’ Defensemen in the NHL
The biggest name is a former Bruins blueliner is Torey Krug. Following the 2019-20 season, he left free agency for the St. Louis Blues, but during his tenure with the Black and Gold, he quarterbacked the power play, played top pairing minutes, and was one of the best offensive defensemen in Boston. Also in 2020, longtime captain Zdeno Chara left in free agency to join the Washington Capitals, then spent last season with the New York Islanders and is currently a free agent again. It’s more than likely that he’ll retire this season, but you never know.
Other former Bruins defensemen include Jeremy Lauzon, who was selected by the Kraken in their Expansion Draft in 2021, before being traded at the trade deadline in March to the Nashville Predators. Ryan Lindgren was part of a trade in 2018 that acquired Rick Nash from the New York Rangers and he has settled in their blue line as they become one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference. Josh Brown had a short stay in Boston last season after being acquired at the trade deadline, while youngster Urho Vaakanainen was traded to the Ducks in March as part of the deal that acquired Lindholm.
What the Defensive Pairings Would Look Like
The top pairing would be a Bruins’ dream to have Krug back with McAvoy, when healthy. Krug meshed well with Pastrnak, Marchand, Bergeron, and Krejci on the first power play unit in Boston. It also gives the Black and Gold two offensive defenseman who could play off one another when paired with McAvoy. The second paring could very well end up being the top pairing to begin the season with Lindholm and Carlo, who has become a shutdown defenseman with his long reach and a key penalty killer. Lindholm’s returns following the trade last season were tough to gauge as he was injured in early April and missed most of the month, before returning for the playoffs, only to take a hit and be sidelined for some games against the Carolina Hurricanes in their first-round series.
|Left Defense||Right Defense|
|Torey Krug||Charlie McAvoy|
|Hampus Lindholm||Brandon Carlo|
|Jeremy Lauzon||Ryan Lindgren|
The final pairing is a pairing of two left shots with Grzelcyk and Lindgren. When healthy and despite being undersized, Grzelcyk has been a top-four blue liner and capable of playing in all situations. Lindgren has become a staple of the Rangers’ defense the last three seasons. Last season he played in 78 regular-season games and was never afraid to sacrifice his body, collecting 129 hits and blocking 141 shots playing just over 20 minutes a night. With the Bruins lacking multiple big and physical defensemen, Lindgren would sure fit that category.
Honorable mentions would be Chara (although his age is a big factor), Lauzon and Vaakanainen. Lauzon was beginning to find his game in the NHL which made him expendable and enticing for the Kraken to select him. Zboril is an up-and-coming player and Clifton is a garbage pale guy that gives you everything he has each night.
There have not been many goaltenders for Boston in the last decade as Tuukka Rask took over in 2012-13 and had a Hall of Fame career. His records and play spoke for itself, but on the backend of his career, he split time with Jaroslav Halak, and the duo combined to win the Jennings Trophy in 2019-20 and lead the Bruins to the Presidents Trophy in the 70-game shortened season.
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Currently, the Bruins are set, even with Rask announcing his retirement in February. Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark had a very good first season together in 2021-22, but will be challenged early this season. After those two, the list of former Bruins goalies still playing in the NHL is not very long, thanks to Rask.
Halak is still in the league, signing this offseason with the New York Rangers after spending last season with the Vancouver Canucks. Dan Vladar, who was drafted 75th overall in 2015 and was traded to the Flames last offseason to clear a spot so the Bruins could sign Ullmark, and the consensus here is that Swayman and Ullmark would be the two goaltenders.
The Bruins’ forward grouping has the top-six currently on the roster with some veteran thump with Lucic, while the additions on the defense of Krug and Lindgren would be an upgrade over what Boston currently has at the bottom. Because of the career Rask had wearing the Spoked-B, there are not many goalies still playing and there is not one that would be an improvement over Swayman and Ullmark. Was there someone that was missed that should be on this list? Leave a comment below.